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The Influence of Institutional Retention Climates on Student Persistence to Degree Completion: A Multilevel Approach


Using multi-institutional data from the Cooperative Institutional Research Program’s (CIRP) annual survey of entering freshmen, the Higher Education Research Institute’s (HERI) Faculty Surveys, campus registrars’ offices, and IPEDS data, we evaluated the extent to which peer institutional retention climates and faculty perceived campus climates influenced individual 6-year retention rates. We used hierarchical generalized linear models (HGLM) to examine the extent to which institutional climate (as measured by peer institutional retention climate and faculty perceived climate), net of students’ ability, expectations, and family socioeconomic status, influence students’ persistence behavior. We found that institutional retention climate, as defined by a student body’s aggregated report of withdrawal intentions, did independently determine whether a student would persist or not. While past research has overlooked peer and faculty climates, the results from this work call for the attention of peer institutional retention climates.

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